Arvo Party released their latest album on 6th March this year. It was well received by us here at At The Barrier (read our review here). The award nominated artist, producer and musician has written about one of his biggest influences in the latest in our Why I Love series.
Had I been asked to write about my favourite artist 10 years ago I might have written some exhaustive macho-driven piece about why Queens of the Stone Age are amazing or why Def Leppard don’t get the credit they deserve but for this piece I’m going to have to select David Bowie and I shall tell you why.
I probably heard little bits of Bowie growing up but none of it really leapt out into my young, heavy metal obsessed brain. I remember playing bass in a band that wanted to cover Rebel Rebel and by chance I found a Bowie ‘best of’ in a charity shop so I took it home and started listening and playing along. At some point I found I was really enjoying playing along, especially to Let’s Dance and China Girl but my interest wasn’t even real grabbed then.
I was an avid reader of Kerrang! magazine and used it to discover new bands I hadn’t heard of before. Fugazi, Kyuss and a whole host of other 90’s rock bands. I spotted a 4K review of a Nine Inch Nails remix album and by chance when I next went to the record shop it was on offer, so, I bought it…but I really didn’t understand it.
It was so dark that it genuinely terrified me but after a few months it made a little more sense. It made even more sense when I got the album which had been remixed – The Downward Spiral. This was terrifying on an entirely different level but I grew to absolutely adore it. Anyway, one day I was watching VH1 and they showed David Bowie’s 50th birthday gig at Madison Square Garden (which I only knew as the home of Wrestlemania 1).
I think it really clicked when I started making music as Arvo Party; before then it was all rock music. Being solo allowed me to see the vision as a whole and that somehow made me sympathise with Bowie and see just how much he put into every release or change how he presented himself. All of a sudden I could see the influences; you could tell what he was reading, what he listened to and how it all fit together.
I loved how he put all of his influences into a big melting pot but it was still somehow Bowie. And that’s something I’d like to think is obvious in my music. Yes, there’s a little Bowie, there’s a little Blade Runner, even a little Ted Hughes somewhere.
I would always have said that Low was the biggest influence in me as an artist and it probably is, but also through Bowie, so are NIN and recently, Blackstar…definitely.
Everything around Blackstar blew me away. How it wasn’t flashy, no press, just amazing music from out of seemingly nowhere. The final piece of the puzzle being his death. And he knew, he must have. Knowing Bowie, that was all a part of the art. I remember waking up on the day he died to all the texts from friends who knew I was a massive fan and it didn’t sink in until the afternoon. Something like that wouldn’t normally affect me so much but this was devastating. I remember looking out the window on that grey day and imagining him in space. Silly, I know but somehow it helped.
I never had the pleasure of seeing him live unfortunately. I have remixed and covered his songs, once for a charity EP shortly after his death. And I still play bass along to his music, that will always be my dream job…playing bass for David Bowie.
Many thanks to Arvo Party for taking the time to share his love of David Bowie; a true icon.
Listen to Arvo Party’s tribute to David Bowie below.